January 24, 2009
Metaphor of the month:
Jack Shafer, in Slate, writes:
“Nobody in TV news stir-fries his ideas and serves them to the audience faster than MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Drawing from a larder filled with old anecdotes, unreliable metaphors, wacky intuition, and superficial observations, the always-animated Matthews steers whatever’s handy into the hot wok that is his brain. The sizzling free-associations skitter through his limbic system, leap out his mouth, and look for a resting spot in the national conversation, where they steam like fresh lava in untouchable heaps.
“Anything can set Matthews to cooking, but nothing summons his inner chef like a National Event of Great Importance such as yesterday’s inauguration. If you watched MSNBC’s coverage, you understand why Keith Olbermann wears a body apron and totes a fire extinguisher whenever they co-host: to keep the flying grease from setting his suits aflame.”
Forbes magazine offers up this list of the 25 most influential liberals in the US media. Number 1 is Paul Krugman, the uber-Keynesian whose economic prescription for what ails us is the ne plus ultra of Bizarro World economics: we can spend our way out of penury! Nothing too surprising there. However, scattered amongst the liberal lefty-but-not-too-left bloggers (Kevin Drum, Glenn Greenwald, Markos Moulitsas), is Number 19 “ Andrew Sullivan, described thusly:
“A granddaddy of Washington blogging and a former editor of The New Republic, he clings unconvincingly to the “conservative” label even after his fervent endorsement of Obama. His advocacy for gay marriage rights and his tendency to view virtually everything through a “gay” prism puts him at odds with many on the right.”
“Unconvincing” is putting it mildly “ but, then again, Sullivan’s alleged liberalism is equally illusory. After all, here is someone who demanded the US drop a nuclear bomb on Iraq, accused opponents of the Iraq war of being a “fifth column,” and set himself up as the arbiter of the post-9/11 version of political correctness, which included an attempt to censor poetry he disapproved of as treasonous. Liberal? Not in any meaning of the word I can discern, but then again neither is he conservative, in any sense that the readers of this blog would recognize. He is, instead, a total opportunist, whose opinions vary with the Zeitgeist (as he perceives it), and this is his “talent” “ an uncanny ability to see where things are going, and get out ahead before anybody else.
Number 14 is Christopher Hitchens, the militant atheist and warmonger, who is in reality a neocon par excellence, a former Trotskyite who “ like his friend, Sullivan “ is a political fashionista. He turned against Bush II when the public did, and jumped on the Obama-wagon when it was convenient to do so: now he’s an influential “liberal.” He may be influential, but he’s no liberal “ Hitchens is just another neocon who wants to get invited to all the right parties.
My favorite, however, is Number 2—Arianna Huffington, who was unconvincing as a “compassionate conservative,” and is a bit more credible “ albeit not much “ as the doyenne of the Obama-oids. She’s described as “the leading curator of liberal commentary online,” and is supposedly “credited with helping put Barack Obama’s bandwagon firmly on its way to Washington.” Hmmmm. I think the millions Obama scarfed up from his Wall Street bailout-buddies has a bit more to do with it than the Arianna’s bromides uttered as if they were the Sermon on the Mount. “She has,” we are told, “an uncanny ability to marry attitude and authoritativeness.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. Another is: she has an uncanny ability to marry money.